Flood Insurance coverage is usually not provided by typical property insurance policies, so it is most likely that unless you’ve purchased a flood insurance policy, you do not have coverage for flood losses.

Flood coverage is usually not provided by typical property insurance policies, so it is most likely that unless you’ve purchased a flood insurance policy, you do not have coverage for flood losses. Flood insurance is available through many different insurance companies, but the federal government, through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), alone bears the risk.

According to the NFIP, a flood is a temporary overflow of inland or tidal waters onto normally dry land, or run-off water from rain, etc. Floods also include mudflows onto dry land, and water-caused erosion or collapse of land along a lake, pond, river or stream, which then results in the temporary overflow of water onto normally dry land. The flood insurance products that the NFIP offers are generally much more complicated than those offered by most other property insurers. The NFIP owns the premiums paid by the flood insurance customers and they pay the claims and expenses of the program. The NFIP establishes one set of policy terms and rates for the various flood insurance policies. As a result, comparison-shopping for flood insurance is not necessary, but a buyer should carefully discuss and review the conditions and requirements of the applicable flood insurance policy with his or her agent.

The NFIP has a Regular Program and an Emergency Program. A community can only participate in the Regular Program if the community has adopted all local ordinances. For example, a community will participate in the Emergency Program while it waits approval for participation in the Regular Program. The Emergency Program is only available for a limited amount of time and offers less coverage than the Regular Program. If the community has not adopted all ordinances by the end of the limited period of time, it can no longer participate in the NFIP. To find out if your community participates in the NFIP, contact an agent that writes flood insurance, or go to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website at www.fema.gov to see if your community (or county) is listed.

If you choose to purchase flood insurance, you should know that it takes a minimum of 30 days for your flood insurance policy to become effective, unless you are obtaining flood insurance in connection with purchasing a home or refinancing a mortgage. It is prudent, therefore, to purchase your flood insurance well before you need its protection. Also, depending on the type and location of the building being insured, you may have to complete certain flood insurance-specific forms, at least one of which (an Elevation Certificate) must be completed by a qualified individual such as an engineer.

– Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc.